I'm writing this post while on my way home from a whirlwind trip from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, and back in time 3 generations. This story begins about a month ago, when my brother emailed me a 3-year old article from Indiana University of Pennsylvania about an exhibit showcasing paintings created by my great-grandparents, Leslie and Carrie Pattison. "Too bad," I told my brother, "I would have made the trip to Pennsylvania to see that." Rather than moving on from this article, my curiosity was piqued. I didn't know much about my great-grandparents, other than the fact that they were artists, but somewhere in the little town of Indiana, Pennsylvania was apparently a group of people who knew far more than I did. "I wonder what else is out there," I thought. So I started searching, and what followed was kind of like an avalanche coming down a mountain, building speed, mass, and power. It turned out that my great-grandparents were founders of the Indiana Art Association, whose website gave me even more information about them. More searching... I found that a prolific art collector named Myron Tomb had loaned most of the artwork for that show, and had written a book about their artwork. More searching... I found that this same individual now owns the property that my great-grandparents used to own. More searching... I found a video of Mr. Tomb, at that property, talking about the history and art of my great-grandparents. Within hours, my brother and I had set a date to take a trip to Indiana, Pennsylvania to meet Mr. Tomb and see the largest private collection of artwork created by our great-grandparents, along with their homestead. Yesterday was that date, and it truly was a magical trip of discovery.
So as I sit on the airplane, waiting to head home, but delayed due to a broken down fuel truck stalled behind the plane (I kid you not), I keep thinking about that incredible avalanche of information that led to my journey into my family's past. All of this information about my great grandparents was out there, waiting to be discovered... waiting for me to look for it... waiting for me to ask the right questions.
As often is the case as the COO of the world's leading provider of sales assessment tools, I started to think about this experience from the perspective of selling. My trip this weekend was truly the result of persistent curiosity. I searched, discovered, processed, and repeated. Isn't that journey of discovery exactly what a great salesperson does?
What if we think of prospects as a search engine? When I went to Google, it doesn't tell me anything; I needed to ask questions. It's no different in sales. Prospects have the information that you need to understand their needs, differentiate yourself, prove the value of your products or services, and overcome their objections. You just need the persistent curiosity necessary to keep asking questions and intensely listening to the answers... discovering the next clue... following the trail... finding what you don't yet know.
Sometimes journeys don't start with what you know, but rather with what you don't know, and what your curiosity can discover.